Research and Awards / Top 35 Retailers

A capsule look at the top 35

March 30, 2012
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Walmart U.S.
PL Grocery Sales:
$42.3 billion
Web site:
www.walmartstores.com
Retail Banners: Neighborhood Markets, Marketside, Walmart Express, Walmart on Campus, Walmart Supercenter
No. of U.S. Stores: 4,300
No. of U.S. Employees:
1.4 million
CEO: Mike Duke
Key PL Personnel: Deborah Wright, senior director private brands quality; Sandra Farwell, director private label food & consumables; Dan Engdahl, director, private label sourcing
Private Labels: Great Value, Home Trends, Equate, Ol’ Roy, Parents’ Choice, others
PL News: Walmart’s private label offerings went on a rollercoaster ride starting in 2010 and continuing into this year. First, the giant retailer went through a SKU rationalization program that cut branded goods and upped its private label assortment. When consumers balked, Walmart recanted and brought brands back. It still seems to be trying to figure out what the right mix of private label and branded goods is for it.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer also announced that it would reformulate its private label foods to cut sodium content by 25 percent and sugar content by 10 percent over five years. “This is a significant and far-reaching initiative that will be felt by manufacturers, customers and competitors alike, it is an impressive commitment to leverage both its private brands and its buying power to encourage better health and create differentiation for its stores,” Christopher Durham, founder of the mypbrand.com private label blog, told PLBuyer.
In July, rumors were circulating that Walmart wanted to buy Rite Aid Corp., the nation’s No. 3 drugstore chain but no union had been announced or proposed as of press time.
 
 
The Kroger Co.
PL Grocery Sales:
$21.4 billion
Web site:
www.thekrogerco.com
Retail Banners: Kroger, Ralphs, Dillons, King Soopers, Fry’s, QFC, City Market, Hilander, Owen’s, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker’s Gerbes, Scott’s Food & Pharmacy, Fred Meyer, Dillons Marketplace, Fry’s Marketplace, Kroger Marketplace, Smith’s Marketplace, Food 4 Less, Foods Co
No. of Stores: 2,449
No. of U.S. Employees: 338,000+
CEO: David Dillon
Key PL Personnel: Linda Severin, vice president, corporate brands
Private Labels: Active Lifestyle, Big K, Comforts, Fresh Selections, Kroger, Kroger Value, mirra, Naturally Preferred, Pet Pride, Private Selection, Private Selection Organics,
Wholesome@Home
PL News: Kroger has stepped up its private label efforts the past year. The grocer introduced more than 600 new private label products in 2010 with its Wholesome@Home line and several prepared foods. Kroger had its own happy hour as it jumped on the private label beer band wagon by rolling out its premium private brand beer, Port Republic in January 2011. It also continued expanding the renovation and relaunch of its premium Private Selection brand in June 2011. During a first quarter conference call with analysts, executives also said it had reformulated or rebranded hundreds of products in its Home Sense private label household line. Kroger’s main banner private label, which has upwards of 5,000 SKUs across some 276 categories, is also in the midst of a major renovation. In an effort to reach its mom shoppers, the company launched a new Web site through its private brand baby product line, Comforts.
 
 
Safeway Inc.
PL Grocery Sales:
$10.7 billion
Web site:
www.safeway.com
Retail Banners: Carrs, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Pavilions, Randalls, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Vons
No. of Stores: 1,687
No. of U.S. Employees: 180,000 (Year-end 2010)
CEO: Steve Burd
Key PL Personnel: Joe Ennen, senior vice president, consumer brands
Private Labels: Bright Green, Eating Right, Lucerne, mom to mom, O Organics, Open Nature, Pantry Essentials, Primo Taglio, Priority Pet Care, Rancher’s Reserve, refreshe, Safeway, Safeway SELECT, Signature Café, The Snack Artist, waterfront BISTRO
PL News: Over the past year, Safeway has continued to evolve and grow its vast private label portfolio. In October 2010, the California-based retailer announced the launch of In-Kind, a natural personal care line of products for body, hair, face and hands. A month later in November, the retailer launched The Snack Artist line of private label snacks. To pair with its private label snack rollout, Safeway added a new line of Signature Café private label salsas in December 2010. In 2011, the retailer highlighted the launch of its private label Open Nature with a Guinness World Records title for world’s longest picnic table. It also quietly launched Safeway Kitchens, a private label line of fresh bread, rolls, hot dog and hamburger buns, English muffins, bagels and specialty breads.
 
 
Costco
PL Grocery Sales:
$10.2 billion
Web site:
www.costco.com
Retail Banner: Costco
No. of Stores: 587 (as of
Aug. 4, 2011)
No. of U.S. Employees: 107,200
CEO: James D. Sinegal (retiring)
Key PL Personnel: Nancy Griese, vice president
Private Label: Kirkland Signature
PL News: Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco is well-known for pairing its Kirkland Signature private label with national brands to create exclusive products that prove mutually beneficial. During a third quarter 2010 conference call with investors, Costco executives said it planned to introduce more private label consumables under its Kirkland Signature label. Costco’s Kirkland Signature Handcrafted Lagers and Ales was the only private label product among the 10 hottest products of 2010. The warehouse retailer also received accolades for its Kirkland Signature private label environmentally friendly liquid dish soap, landing it a Consumer Report’s magazine Best Buy designation.
 
 
Loblaw
Companies Ltd.
PL Grocery Sales:
$8.2 billion
Web site: www.loblaw.ca
Retail Banners: Atlantic Superstore, Bloorstreet Market, club entrepot, Dominion, Extra Foods, Fortinos, independent, Les Entrepots Presto, Loblaws, Loblaw Great Food, Loblaw Superstore, nofrills, maxi, maxi & cie, provigo, Real Canadian Superstore, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, SaveEasy, T&T Supermarket, valu-mart, Zehrs, Zehrs Great Food and more.
No. of Stores: 1,700
No. of Employees: 136,000
COO: Peter K. McMahon
Key PL Personnel: N/A
Private Labels: Joe Fresh, no name, President’s Choice, President’s Choice Blue, President’s Choice Green, President’s Choice Organics.
PL News:The Ontario, Canada-based retailer will be introducing this year its Loblaw’s Everyday Essentials private brand items specially designed for Habitat for Humanity Canada. The line includes more than 500 items, including home décor, appliance and table top products, many of which are priced below $20.
The retailer also introduced its Everyday Living store brand general merchandise last year. Everyday Living includes store brand categories in the beauty, kitchen and seasonal toy department. First introduced in mid-2010, there are now 21 newly renovated stores carrying the products. Loblaw stores throughout Canada also have begun carrying private label WiseSource salmon. The salmon is farmed Atlantic salmon raised in Canadian waters. In 2010, the company launched 37 President’s Choice Green products, reduced President’s Choice packaging by 5 million pounds and was recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc.
 
 
Supervalu Inc.
PL Grocery Sales:
$7.3 billion
Web site:
www.supervalu.com
Retail Banners: Acme, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ’n Save and Shoppers. Hard Discount: Save A Lot
No. of U.S. Stores: 1,107 retail, 1,283 hard discount and 1,900 independent stores serviced primarily by the company’s traditional food distribution business.
No. of U.S. Employees: 140,000
CEO: Craig R. Herkert
Key PL Personnel: Sam Mayberry, vice president of private brands
Private Labels: Essential Everyday, Arctic Shores, Baby Basics, Carlita, Culinary Circle, Equaline, Farm Stand, Flavorite, homelife, Java Delight, Richfood, Shoppers Value, Stockman & Dakota, Stone Ridge Creamery, Super Chill, Super Crunch, wild harvest
PL News: Supervalu in July introduced its new line of private brand products under the Essential Everyday name. The rollout comes as a part of a strategic rebranding initiative that will unify its former individual banner private labels under a single private label. The company announced that it also plans on expanding its Save-A-Lot stores by adding approximately 160 new stores by 2012. Earlier this summer, it rolled out its new Save-A-Lot Today line which includes 19 items such as paper towels, brownie mix, frozen pizza and toaster pastries.
The company will extend its Shoppers Value, Culinary Circle and wild harvest lines this year, adding 80 new and re-launched SKUs and expanding into new categories. The successful introduction of $1 single-serve frozen-fish under the Shoppers Value brand last year prompted the retailer to introduce single-serve pork, chicken and beef offerings in mid-June.
 
 
Trader Joe’s
Co. Inc.
PL Grocery Sales:
$6.8 billion
Web site: www.traderjoes.com
Retail Banner: Trader Joe’s
No. of U.S. Stores: 350
No. of U.S. Employees: 5,500
CEO: Dan T. Bane
Key PL Personnel: N/A
Private Labels: Trader Joe’s, Trader Ming’s, Trader Jose, Trader Giotto, Pilgrim Joe and more
PL News: Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s held a private brand contest this year, allowing customers to create a pie recipe using strictly Trader Joe’s products. The HiiP (highly innovative ingredient pairing) award went to the customer that made the best dish using only five store brand ingredients.
The retailer is considered one of the leaders in private label product launches, according to a study done by The Global New Products Database (GNPD) of Mintel International Group Ltd., Chicago. Trader Joe’s has introduced 221 new private label products from January to May 4, 2011, according to the study.
The company also has continued its expansion efforts, announcing plans to open new stores in Knoxville, Tenn., and Lexington, Ky. in the coming year.
 
 
Publix
PL Grocery Sales:
$5.5 billion
Web site:
www.publix.com
Retail Banners: Publix, Publix Sabor, Publix GreenWise Markets
No. of U.S. Stores: 1,038
No. of U.S. Employees: 147,500
CEO: William Crenshaw
Key PL Personnel: Dave Bornmann, vice president of purchasing
Private Labels: Publix, Publix GreenWise, Publix Premium, Publix Bakery, Publix Deli
PL News: Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix continued to be a private label trendsetter in 2010 and early 2011. In July, 2010, it rolled out a new assortment of private label children’s meals priced at $3.99 each. Offerings included chicken tenders, ham sandwiches, peanut butter apple wraps and turkey rolls, each with two sides and a drink. In December, 2010, and January of this year, it also introduced a variety of private label domestic and imported cheeses, taking its cues from customer feedback in regard to what varieties to offer. “Consumers are looking for a cheese that delivers flavor and taste, and that appears to be what Publix is trying to do with [its] specialty line,” Maria Schurer, president/owner of Culinary Connections, a Chicago-based food consulting firm, told PLBuyer in January about the new Publix cheeses. In addition to being named PLBuyer’s Private Label  Retailer of 2010, Publix also did well in another survey done by Market Force Information which asked consumers which retailers ranked highest in a variety of characteristics, including low pricing.
 
 
Aldi (U.S.)
PL Grocery Sales:
$5.4 billion
Web site: www.aldi.us
Retail Banner: Aldi
No. of U.S. Stores: 1,100+
No. of U.S. Employees: 11,000+
Co-Presidents: Jason Hart, Charles (Chuck) Youngstrom
Key PL Personnel: Joan Kavanaugh, vice president, corporate purchasing
Private Labels: Fit & Active, Tuscan Garden, Lacura, Grandessa Signature, L’oven Fresh, Sweet Harvest, Clancy’s, Kirkwood, Summit and others; 46 in all.
PL News: Aldi’s has spent the past year and a half expanding both its store footprint across the United States and its lines of private label products. It moved into New York and Texas with new stores for the first time while also unveiling a new store footprint that will mean slightly larger stores than it has opened in the past.
On the private label product front, it captured attention in 2011 with its Kirkwood frozen chicken offerings in a can-shaped paperboard container that includes a spinning clear window that allows for more product information to be shown consumers. In 2010, it introduced Bremer Select private label entrees in a package that combines flexible packaging and a thermal processing technique designed to better offer what consumers would perceive as restaurant quality frozen food. Aldi also topped a consumer survey released in March that asked shoppers who they see as price leaders in food retailing.
 
 
Target Corp.
PL Grocery Sales:
$5.4 billion
Web site: www.target.com
Retail Banners: Target, SuperTarget, Target PFresh
No. of Stores: 1,750 (2010 FY)
No. of U.S. Employees: 355,000 (2010 FY End)
CEO: Gregg Steinhafel
Key PL Personnel: Annie Zipfel, director of owned brands
Private Labels: Archer Farms, Choxie, DwellStudio for Target, Market Pantry, Merona, Mossimo, Sutton & Dodge, up & up, Wine Cube and others
PL News: Minneapolis-based Target has put its private label offerings front and center in its weekly advertising circulars many times in the past year. It touted its retail brand proposition and price positioning of its Market Pantry brand on the front page, with page two pitting five up & up brand products against a comparable product at a substantial savings one week, for example. Most recently, the retailer featured private brands Room Essentials, Market Pantry, up & up and the launch of its Vintage Varsity line in a back-to-school themed ad circular. Target also redesigned and relaunched its private label pet brand, Boots & Barkley.
 
 
Delhaize America
PL Grocery Sales:
$5.1 billion
Web site:
www.delhaizegroup.com
Retail Banners: Food Lion, Bloom, Bottom Dollar Food, Hannaford Bros., Sweetbay Supermarkets
No. of U.S. Stores: 1,640
No. of U.S. Employees: 109,000
CEO: Pierre-Olivier Beckers, president and CEO of Delhaize Group SA. Carol Herndon, chief administrative officer, Delhaize America
Key PL Personnel: Nancy Dumais, director of branding and design, private brands; Tim Jacques vice president, private brand
Private Labels: Healthy Accents, My Essentials, Food Lion, Taste of Inspirations, Home 360, Smart Options, Nature’s Place, Healthy Concerns
PL News: Delhaize America, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Brussels-based Delhaize Group SA, hopes to increase its private label brand share to 35 percent by 2013. In 2011, it introduced 500 items in its new My Essentials line that is replacing Smart Options.
CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers has said publicly that “the contribution of private brand to total sales now stands at more than 26 percent at Food Lion, an increase of 120 basis points compared to two years ago.” A similar trend is evident at the company’s Hannaford and Sweetbay stores, he says.
Delhaize re-launched 200 Food Lions stores. The remodels are the first phase of a full brand overhaul that should be completed by the end of next year, the company says.
“Customer feedback tells us that Food Lion is on the right track and the changes we have made are being noticed and appreciated,” said Beckers.
 
 
Walgreen Co.
PL Grocery Sales:
$4.7 billion
Web site:
www.walgreens.com
Retail Banner: Walgreens
No. of U.S. Stores: 8,195
No. of U.S. Employees: 244,000
CEO: Greg Wasson, president and CEO
Key PL Personnel: Moe Alkemade, divisional vice president and general merchandise manager of private brands
Private Labels: Nice!, which includes more than 400 grocery and household products.
PL News: TheWalgreens Nice! brand rollout of 400-plus products is scheduled to be finished by early 2012. Nice! means the eventual phasing out of long-time Walgreens’ private labels like W, Cafe W and Deerfield Farms, among others.
Walgreens is betting that consumers will continue to increase their private label spending at the Deerfield, Ill.-based drug giant, which has noted a jump in private label sales. “Persistent high unemployment, a weak housing market, high fuel prices and inflation all put pressure on consumers,” Wasson said. “In response, we believe our customers are managing their overall spending by buying more ad and private brand items.”
At its last annual meeting, Wasson shared the company’s strategy to evolve from a “retail drugstore to a retail health and daily living store.” It continues to expand its food and grocery items in urban areas that are under-served by mainline food retailers.
Walgreens began testing this expanded format last summer in a handful of stores and now says it will be rolling it out, in various iterations, nationwide. The test stores offer more than 750 new products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meat and fish, pasta, rice, beans, eggs and whole-grain cereals.
 
 
Sobeys, Inc.
PL Grocery Sales:
$4 billion
Web site:
www.sobeys.com
Retail Banners: Sobeys, IGA extra, Thrifty Foods IGA, Foodland and FreshCo. It also owns the Needs, Sobeys Express and BoniChoix convenience stores.
No. of Stores: 1,300 in every province in Canada
No. of Employees: 85,000
CEO: Bill McEwan, president and CEO
Key PL Personnel: Kristine Ramezani, director, packaging brand and development, John Hale, director, product appraisal & development; Linda Hodgkinson, director, product development; Yvonne Graham, director, integrated marketing communications; Paul Flinton, vice president, brand and product marketing
Private Labels: Sobeys, Compliments, Sensations by Compliments, Compliments Balance, Compliments Organics, Compliments Collection, Compliments Value Signal
PL News: This past summer, Sobeys introduced two new items in its Sensations by Compliments line: Korean-style beef burgers and Angus beef sliders. During 2011, Sobeys converted 57 of its Price Chopper stores into FreshCo discount food stores. FreshCo stores sell an expanded selection of meats and produce, including seasonal and local produce. It also sells ethnic and cultural items, like specialty bakery and dairy products targeted to specific locales. Unlike many discount food stores, FreshCo, sells gluten-free and lactose-free products. Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based Sobeys is Canada’s second largest retailer, and wholly owned by Empire Company Ltd.
 
 
Sam’s Club
PL Grocery Sales:
$3.4 billion
Web site:
www.samsclub.com
Retail Banner: Sam’s Club
No. of U.S. Stores: 602
No. of U.S. Employees: 100,000+
CEO: Brian Cornell, CEO and president
Key PL Personnel: Maurice Markey, vice president, private brands
Private Labels: Sam’s Choice, Simply Right, Daily Chef, Artisan Fresh, Member’s Mark, Bakers & Chefs, Sophyto, Calle Azul, Rue 33
PL News: In March, General Nutrition Centers said it will offer private brand products at Sam’s – the first time the retailer has sold its products in a warehouse club. The move is part of Sam’s increased focus on health and wellness-oriented consumers.
The Walmart Stores, Inc.-owned warehouse giant is replacing its longstanding Members Mark grocery, bakery and beauty brand with three new private labels. Daily Chef (grocery items), Simply Right (baby and health and beauty aids) and Artisan Fresh (deli and baked goods) are part of Sam’s ongoing attempt to improve private label quality and boost private label sales, which have been flat during the past five quarters.  The new private labels should total more than 400 products by the end of the year.
The challenge is to convince consumers that the new brands are of solid quality, and can compete successfully with Costco and its Kirkland private label, one analyst notes.
 
 
H.E. Butt Grocery Co.
PL Grocery Sales:
$3.2 billion
Web site:
www.heb.com
Retail Banners: H-E-B., H-E-B.-Plus, Central Market
No. of U.S. Stores: 300+
No. of U.S. Employees: 76,000
CEO: Charles Butt, chairman and CEO. Craig Boyan, president and chief operating officer.
Key PL Personnel: Juan De Paoli, director own brand; Don Hawkins, director own brand design & innovation
Private Labels: H-E-B, Hill Country, Hill Country Fare, Hill Country Essentials, Central Market, H-E-Buddy 
PLNews: H-E-B recently expanded its line of private label pure cane sugar sodas. The San Antonio, Texas-based retailer introduced three new flavors: orange burst, wild red and old-fashioned root beer. The new beverages are in response to consumer demand for more products made with natural sweeteners instead of high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient some claim contributes to obesity.
 
 
CVS Caremark Corp.
PL Grocery Sales:
$3.1 billion
Web sites: www.cvs.com,
www.cvscaremark.com
Retail Banner: CVS
No. of Stores: 7,266 retail stores
No. of Employees: 200,000
CEO: Larry J. Merlo, president
and CEO
Key PL Personnel: Grant Pill, vice president of merchandizing for store brands/photo
Private Labels: Just the Basics, Life Fitness, PLAYSKOOL Baby Care, Skin Effects by Dr. Jeffrey Dover, 24.7
PL News: In February, the Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS/pharmacy division launched the first 100 items in its Just the Basics private label line of products, including home goods like paper towels, sandwich bags, cleaners, laundry detergent and light bulbs. Personal care products include baby care, hair products, oral care, shaving products and hosiery.  Just the Basics includes a wide range of groceries, beverages and snacks. It planned to add 900 new store brand offerings in 2011. The company’s 2010 annual report noted that it carries more than 5,000 store brand items and that these account for more than 17 percent of sales in the front of the store. It expects its private label sales to reach more than 20 percent of front of the store sales over the next two years.
CVS Caremark forecasts that it will add more than 150 net new stores annually. In 2010, it opened stores in Memphis, Omaha, St. Louis and Puerto Rico.
 
 
Meijer Inc.
PL Grocery Sales:
$2.3 billion
Web site:
www.meijer.com
Retail Banners: Meijer,
Meijer Marketplace
No. of U.S. Stores: 196
No. of U.S. Employees: 72,200
CEO: Hank Meijer, co-chairman, CEO
Key PL Personnel: Ralph Fischer, group vice president, foods
Private Labels: Meijer, Meijer Brand, Meijer Organics, Meijer Naturals, Meijer Ecowise, Meijer Elements, Meijer Gold
PL News: Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer launched Meijer Marketplace, a more localized grocery store, in the Chicago area. At 96,000 square feet, Meijer Marketplace is about half the size of Meijer’s largest supercenters. Meijer says it is ensuring that the store has the benefits of larger Meijer stores, in essence offering a “mini” supercenter concept that provides local customers with a tailored grocery offering along with a broad variety of general merchandise items.
Marketplace stores will focus on fresh quality meats and produce, as well as a wide variety of deli, bakery and pantry items. Products will include a range of Hispanic and Italian foods, providing a new shopping option for the surrounding ethnically-diverse community.
 
 
Whole Foods
Market Inc.
PL Grocery
Sales: $2 billion
Web site:
www.wholefoodsmarket.com
Retail Banner: Whole Foods Market
No. of U.S. Stores: 288
No. of Employees: 58,300 in North America and the U.K.
CEO: John Mackey and Walter Robb, co-CEOs; A.C. Gallo, president and COO
Key PL Personnel: Chris Slick, senior global coordinator for exclusive and store brands
Private Labels: 365 Everyday Value, 365 Organic Everyday Value, Eco Baby, Whole Foods Market, Whole Kids Organic, Whole Kitchen, Whole Pantry, Whole Paws, Whole Ranch, Whole Treat, Whole Creamery, Whole Catch
PL News: Whole Foods shoppers have shown signs of increasing their branded purchases, the Austin-based company said in July. This could signal a shift in consumer thinking to less of a recession mentality. “It’s a new time with a new set of things happening here that we haven’t seen before,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO. “We see branded product actually outpacing private label growth. We see the branded products growing nicely. We see people making incremental trade ups.” In May, the company said it is expanding its private label product range, despite rising commodity prices. Private label items like Three Wishes Wine, brand cheese, soymilk and almond milk can help the grocer steer away from its “Whole Paycheck” image, but only if the company is “better with the pricing of highly recognizable items,” says analyst Paula Rosenblum, of Retail Systems Research. Whole Foods anticipates further private label product releases within its current fiscal year. “We’re in a situation now where certain costs are going up, and certain prices are going up. And we feel like in order to counterbalance that, we need to continue to develop even better selections of value items in each category we have,” President A.C. Gallo said.
 
 
Dollar General
PL Grocery Sales:
$2 billion
Web site:
www.dollargeneral.com
Retail Banner: Dollar General
No. of U.S. Stores: 9,500
No. of U.S. Employees: 85,900
CEO: Richard Dreiling
Key PL Personnel: Gary Stephens, senior director of private brands
Private Labels: Bobbie Brooks, Clover Valley, DG Body, DG Health, Ever Pet, Holiday Style, Open Trails, Smart & Simple, Sweet Smiles, True Living, more
PL News: In August, Dollar General reported a 15 percent year-to-date jump in private label sales, attributable in part to its Rexall product offerings and to consumers trading down to lower priced offerings. The company is an exclusive supplier of Rexall health care products,
a hybrid national brand/private label. “We now have over 1,400 private brand SKUs, including nearly 300 Rexall SKUs, and we believe we still have significant opportunity to grow,” CEO Richard Dreiling said. Its fastest growing customer base is household with incomes of more than $70,000. While CEO Dreiling credits the recession with bringing new shoppers into the stores, he says it is product quality and the company's unique shopping experience that prompts customers, even the more affluent ones, to return.
 “They’re coming in now, and they’re seeing a national-brand-equivalent private brands program that has retail price points that they’re incredibly comfortable with,” he says.
Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General opened 600 new stores in 2010, 300 so far this year and plans to open 1,200 more during the next two years, including for the first time, stores in Nevada, Connecticut and New Hampshire. It will enter the California market by 2012.
Metro, Inc.
 
 
PL Grocery Sales:
$1.9 billion
Web site:
www.metro.ca
Retail Banners: Metro, Metro Plus, Super C and Food Basics, as well as more than 250 drugstores under the Brunet, The Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners
No. of Stores:
650+ in Canada
No. of Employees: 65,000+
CEO: Eric R. La Flèche, CEO
Key PL Personnel: Marie-France Gibson, senior director; Francis Cournoyer, director, design & packaging; Martin Turcotte, director, business development and negotiation
Private Labels: Irresistibles, Selection, which also feature: Irresistibles Life Smart / Irresistibles Bio / Irresistibles Gluten Free / Selection ECO
PL News: The Canadian retailer is giving its Selection private label products a makeover that includes a new logo and new packaging. All 2,500 products should be redesigned and relaunched by the end of 2012. In May, 2010, Metro launched its 24-item Irresistibles Gluten Free product line, touting it as the only Canadian private label gluten-free line. Among new private label products it has rolled out in 2010 and this year are Irresistibles Easy Roast uncooked seasoned whole turkey, Irresistibles Red Velvet ice cream, Irresistibles Non Alcoholic mocktails, Irresistibles Life Smart nutrient enhanced water beverages and Selection Mediterranean-style marinades.
Winn-Dixie
Stores Inc.
 
 
PL Grocery Sales:
$1.5 billion
Web site:
www.winndixie.com
Retail Banner: Winn-Dixie
No. of U.S. Stores: 514
No. of U.S. Employees: 49,000
CEO: Peter Lynch
Key PL Personnel: Matt Gutermuth, group vice president of center store, pricing and own brands and Wesley Bean, vice president, own brands strategy and innovation
Private Labels: Winn & Lovett, Winn-Dixie, ValuTime
PL News: Winn-Dixie, which has more than 4,000 private label offerings, in August began offering private label over-the-counter medications, branded Top Care, through Topco Associates LLC. The Topco items can be substituted for some prescription medications. In June 2010, the grocer introduced Winn-Dixie Organic Active Yogurt, an all-natural line with no preservatives or artificial flavors, offering strawberry, blueberry, peach, vanilla and raspberry options. “We are always looking for new ways to provide healthy products for our customers,” Mary Kellmanson, group vice president, marketing, said at the time. In January 2010, Winn-Dixie rolled out a “mojo marinade” with grapefruit juice, orange juice, and bitter orange concentrate, part of its Hispanic-focused line.
Giant Eagle, Inc.
 
 
PL Grocery Sales:
$1.5 billion
Web site:
www.gianteagle.com
Retail Banners: Giant Eagle, Market District, Giant Eagle Express, ValuKing, GetGo 
No. of U.S. Stores: 228 groceries (170 corporate and 58 independently owned), 165 GetGo fuel and convenience stores
No. of U.S. Employees: 36,000
CEO: David S. Shapira
Key PL Personnel: Lisa Henriksen, senior vice president of marketing and own brands; David Atkins, director of own brands for center store and HBW; Krista Sammartino, director of own brands for perimeter, Market District, research & development
Private Labels: Giant Eagle, Market District, Nature’s Basket, Valu Time, Top Care
PL News: In August, Giant Eagle decided to participate in a cooperative for private label over-the-counter medications that can be substituted for some prescription medications, available through Topco Associates LLC.
In late 2010, Giant Eagle began supplying its own pre-cut fresh fruit and certain soups and prepared foods to its Giant Eagle and Get Go stores. Del Monte Fresh Foods had supplied the fruit previously. On the unhappy news side, Giant Eagle was among four retailers whose private label ground turkey, supplied by Wichita-based Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, was recalled on Aug. 4 due to possible Salmonella Heidelberg contamination. The massive recall covered 36 million pounds of ground turkey products overall.
 
 
A&P
PL Grocery Sales:
$1.5 billion
Web site:
www.apfreshonline.com
Retail Banners: A&P, A&P Super Foodmart, Pathmark, Waldbaums, Super Fresh, The Food Emporium, Food Basics, Woodson & James Choice
No. of U.S. Stores: 336
No. of U.S. Employees: 39,000
CEO: Sam Martin
Key PL Personnel: Kevin Broe, vice president, own brands
Private Labels: America’s Choice, Hartford Reserve, Live Better Wellness, Home Basics, Food Basics, Greenway, Via Roma, Food Emporium Trading Company
PL News: Analyst Boris Planer, a research director of Planet Retail, said last December that A&P’s bankruptcy filing that month might curtail the company’s private label expansion. But Sam Martin, president and CEO, had earlier told analysts that A&P sees private label as key to a turnaround from eight straight quarters of losses between 2008 and 2010.  “By enhancing and expanding our private label brand identity to America’s Choice, Food Basics and the Food Emporium Trading Company, we are offering customers additional value and variety,” he said, during a quarterly earnings conference call in October 2010.
In November, the company launched a new private label brand, Food Emporium Trading Company, which includes international specialty items like cooking oils, candies, coffees, teas, gelato, pasta, pasta sauces and salsas. The line is being sold at A&P, Waldbaum’s, SuperFresh, and The Food Emporium.
In May 2011, A&P upgraded its private label beef line, rebranded Woodson & James Choice, which features the type of steakhouse quality meat offered by most other grocers, according to Jim Wisner, president of Wisner Marketing Group.
 
 
Hy-Vee
PL Grocery Sales: $1.4 billion
Web site:
www.hy-vee.com
Retail Banners: Hy-Vee,
Hy-Vee Drugstore
No. of U.S. Stores: 233
No. of U.S. Employees: 58,000
CEO: Ric Jurgens
Key PL Personnel: Steve Jensen, director, private label procurement
Private Labels: Hy-Vee, Midwest Country Fare, Baking Stone Bread, Hy-Vee Mother’s Choice, Hy-Vee Garden Helpers, Hy-Vee Kitchen Helpers, LeTechniq, Di Lusso, Paws Premium, Amana Beef, Hy-Vee HealthMarket, Blue Ribbon, others
PL News: Hy-Vee sees the growth of private label as “exciting for our business and a great opportunity for our customers,” chairman CEO Ric Jurgens said last year.
“During the recession, private label penetration increased across the country as customers switched to store brands in order to save money,” Jurgens said. “A large percentage of those customers will stick with private label as they discover private label products provide value for their shopping dollars. Many analysts see this focus on value as the ‘new normal’ that’s likely to linger beyond the recession.” To that end, Hy-Vee “does a great job using social media sites like Facebook” to reach Generations X and Y, according to Todd Hale, senior vice president, consumer & shopping insights, Nielsen.
During the midwinter FMI meeting in January, Jurgens, who also chairs FMI, introduced the new Nutrition Keys labeling program that will place calorie, saturated fat, sodium and sugar information on the front of packaged goods. Hy-Vee is among the retailers committed to using this labeling on its private label products.
 
 
Wegmans
PL Grocery Sales:
$1.3 billion
Web site:
www.wegmans.com
Retail Banner: Wegmans
No. of U.S. Stores: 77
No. of U.S. Employees: 41,000+
CEO: Danny Wegman
Key PL Personnel: Mike DeCory, vice president, Wegmans Brand
Private Labels: Wegmans
PL News: Despite dramatic increases in commodity and fuel costs, Wegmans announced in February that it would not increase prices on 40 products, most of them its own private label. In July 2010, Mike DeCory, vice president of private label, was among eight retail executives recognized for building unique, customer-friendly private label programs as part of PLBuyer’s Retail Executives of the Year Awards. “The most critical component to a successful private brand program is total commitment from the entire organization. At Wegmans, commitment starts with the enthusiasm and passion of the Wegman family and continues throughout the organization,” DeCory said at the time. “Our store employees feel connected to our brand and therefore do an unbelievable job of merchandising our products and educating our customers on features and benefits.” The grocer last September introduced the private label Super Pasta; six varieties of burgers and sliders in May and June 2010; and organic fruit-on-the-bottom offerings, as part of its Blended Super Yogurt line, in January 2011.
Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing has repeatedly recognized Wegmans as the most active retailer in promoting private label items in its weekly circular in an exclusive analysis of private label ad trends it does for PLBuyer.
 
 
Rite Aid
PL Grocery Sales:
$1.3 billion
Web site:
www.riteaid.com
Retail Banner: Rite Aid Pharmacy
No. of U.S. Stores: 4,714
No. of U.S. Employees: 91,800
CEO: John T. Standley
Key PL Personnel: Kathy Horton, senior director of Rite Aid brands
Private Labels: Rite Aid, Thrifty Ice Cream, PharmAssure, Tugaboos, Pantry and Simplify
PL News: Rite Aid had more than 1,000 items converted to its private label brands and private-label penetration had increased to 16.5 percent from 15.4 percent during the final quarter of fiscal 2010, which ended Feb. 26, 2011. President and CEO John Standley said the pharmacy chain expected to have 2,200 items in its own brands in fiscal 2012, in reaction to consumers’ persistent frugality.
“We continue to invest in private label,” Standley said in a statement in July 2011. “I think it’s going to continue to gain traction and grow as we go forward.”
New private label lines for Rite Aid have included Simplify, a price-fighter brand that spans paper products and beverages, introduced in July 2010; baby care products called Tugaboos, which include jumbo and overnight diapers and training pants, introduced in May 2010. Rite Aid also has revived the drugstore ice cream counter of past eras in its California stores, featuring the company’s own Thrifty brand hand-dipped ice cream, with  a half-dozen new flavors, along with its first frozen yogurt line.
 
 
Family Dollar
PL Grocery
Sales:
$1.1 billion
Web site:
www.familydollar.com
Retail Banner: Family Dollar
No. of U.S. Stores: 7,000
No. of U.S. Employees:
30,000 full-time,
20,000 part-time
CEO: Howard R. Levine
Key PL Personnel: Mary Rachide, division vice president, private brands; Don Hamblen, senior vice president, customer marketing
Private Labels: Family Dollar, Family Gourmet, Family Pet, Family Wellness, Family Chef, Kidgets, Indoors by Design, Outdoors By Design, Tropic Sun, Extremely Me, Mix & co, Highland Outfitters
PL News: Family Dollar reported a 22 percent increase in private label sales during the first three quarters of fiscal 2011, which ended June 30. Chairman and CEO Howard Levine said the company had introduced more than 500 items year to date. “Our continued efforts to build an integrated global supply chain are supporting our private brand objectives,” he said. At the end of fiscal year 2010, Levine said the company had increased private label sales to 22 percent, up from 19 percent in fiscal 2009. “While I’m pleased with the progress we have made, we still have a significant opportunity to increase our penetration of private branded consumables,” he said.
In June 2010, Family Dollar launched the Kidgets private label clothing line for newborns through toddlers. Levine told PLBuyer that the enhancement and relaunch of that brand and others like Tropic Sun and Outdoor by Design underscored the company’s commitment to quality for a competitive price. In addition to Kidgets, Family Gourmet and Family Pet also have been introduced in the past year and a half.
 
 
Wakefern Food Corp.
PL Grocery Sales:
$1 billion
Web site:
www.wakefern.com
Retail Banners: ShopRite, PriceRite Supermarkets
No. of U.S. Stores: 28 ShopRite stores (plus 220 owned by cooperative members), more
than 40 PriceRite markets
No. of U.S. Employees: Wakefern, 1,500; ShopRite,
more than 50,000;
PriceRite, NA
CEO: Joseph Colalillo
Key PL Personnel:
Loren Weinstein, director
private label branding
Private Labels: ShopRite, PriceRite
PL News: Wakefern’s ShopRite subsidiary launched a blog, called Potluck, in which about a dozen writers endorse the store’s ShopRite-branded private label products. ShopRite plans to add video cooking demonstrations and photos from exclusive Potluck events to the site. “It’s personal, honest and bound to resonate with budget savvy shoppers,” says Natalie Berg, research director at Planet Retail, a London-based consultancy. “It also provides ShopRite with an opportunity to add value and move beyond pure price. Retailers in the U.S. should also be thinking about partnering with celebrity chefs. Getting a celebrity chef to endorse your private label can do wonders.”
ShopRite’s private label products were among five that Consumer Reports tested for a study, released in October 2010, that found store brands save an average of 30 percent-more than $1,500 annually for a family spending $100 a week on groceries-and that quality is high enough that shoppers should try private labels.
 
 
Ahold USA
PL Grocery Sales:
$853 million
Web site:
www.ahold.com
Retail Banners: Stop & Shop, Giant Landover, Giant Carlisle, Martin’s Food Markets, Peapod
No. of U.S. Stores: 2,994 total for corporate parent Royal Ahold, 751 in the U.S.
No. of U.S. Employees: 115,993
CEO: Dick Boer (Royal Ahold)
Key PL Personnel: Thomas Becker, director private label marketing, strategy and brand management
Private Labels: Stop & Shop, Giant, Nature’s Promise, Simply Enjoy, CareOne, Guarantee Value
PL News: In fall 2010, Ahold began a “Combo Deals” program to pair its own private label SKUs with those of national brands. These included free-with-purchase items like Giant brand maple syrup with two boxes of General Mills’ Bisquick all-purpose baking mix, and CareOne cough drops with two boxes of Kimberly-Clark’s Kleenex tissue.
Ahold’s private label sales were about 15 percent to 16 percent of total U.S. sales in the second quarter of 2010, and the company is optimistic about private-label growth in the States in 2011. CEO Dick Boer told analysts during a spring quarterly earnings discussion that Ahold plans to continue growing its American customer base by expanding its stores’ private label selection.
Shoppers Drug Mart
PL Grocery Sales:
$758 million
Web site:
www1.shoppersdrugmart.ca
Retail Banners: Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmaprix (Quebec), Shoppers Simply Pharmacy, Pharmaprix Simplement Sante (Quebec), Shoppers Home Health Care, Murale
No. of Stores: 1,189 Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmprix, 59 Shoppers Simply Pharmacy/Pharmaprix Simplement Sante, 63 Shoppers Home Health Care, 8 Murale
No. of Employees: 51,000+
CEO: David M. Williams (interim)
Key PL Personnel: Morne Van Wyk, senior vice president, corporate and exclusive brands
Private Labels: Allude, Amigo, Baby Life Brand, Baléa, Bath Retreat, Bella, Bio*Life, Easypix, Etival, Everyday Market, Get, Jolie, Life Brand, Nativa Organics, Simply Food, Sox Sense, Stylize, Sunthera 3
PL News: To stay competitive, Shoppers Drug Mart in early 2010 embarked on a strategy that will involve boosting private label products from 14 percent of food offerings to 20 percent by 2012, introducing a new line of private label foods as part of that effort.
In 2010, Shoppers Drug introduced a dermatological skin care line called Etival Laboratoire, a bath line called Bath Retreat, and new sun care products under the Life Brand. The company also introduced in early 2010 the “Double Up & Save” program that gives savings to those who pick up two of the same Life products. Its efforts garnered a thumbs-up at a spring 2011 Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing event from Laureen Schroeder, director of health and beauty at Daymon Worldwide. “You see quite a few exclusive beauty brands that are Shoppers Drug Mart brands or Loblaws that are doing quite well and [have] become a true consumer choice,” Schroeder said.
 
 
Save Mart  
PL Grocery Sales:
$720 million
Web site:
www.savemart.com
Retail Banners: S-Mart Foods, Lucky and FoodMaxx
No. of U.S. Stores: 235
No. of U.S. Employees: 18,000
CEO: Bob Piccinini
Key PL Personnel: N/A
Private Labels: World Classics, Full Circle, Pacific Coast Selections, MasterCut, Master Catch, Sunny Select, Sunnyside Farms, Bayside Farms, Maxx Value, ValuTime, Today’s Health, Pacific Coast Café
PL News: Save Mart in 2010 was working with several new Topco brands, including Valu Time, Top Care, Paws, Full Circle and World Classics. It expanded its private label offerings in areas such as frozen pizza, desserts and prepared meals as well as in value-added cheese items. Sunny Side Farms, its own private label, moved into offering probiotic yogurt, seasonal flavors of ice cream, fruit on the bottom cottage cheese, and convenient squeeze sour cream. Save Mart’s exclusive premium private label Pacific Coast Selections was expanded to hit all edible departments of Save Mart and Lucky stores.
Save Mart said goodbye to its Pacific Coast Cafés in October. The economy, the company told PLBuyer at the time, put coffee spending on the back burner for a lot of people and its cafés “no longer do enough business to stay afloat.” The stores continue to sell ground and whole bean Pacific Coast coffee and drip coffee is offered in the bakeries and deli departments.
 
 
BJ’s Wholesale Club
PL Grocery Sales:
$696 million
Web site: www.bjs.com
Retail Banner: BJ’s
No. of U.S. Stores: 190
No. of U.S. Employees: 24,000
CEO: Laura Sen
Key PL Personnel: N/A
Private Labels: Richelieu Foods, Berkley & Jensen, Lanesboro, Rozzano, Wellsley Farms, Executive Choice
PL News: BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. reported strong earnings and sales in its second quarter with overall sales impacted by “favorable merchandise sales, higher gas profitability and expense savings that exceeded plan,” Laura Sen, BJ’s Wholesale president and chief executive officer, announced in a press release.”We are very excited about our positive sales momentum for the second quarter and first half of 2011. It is clear that our members are doing more of their weekly food shopping with us. And I believe that we have tremendous opportunities to further grow our business,” says Sen.
BJ’s food sales rose 5 percent in the quarter, driven mainly by an 8 percent increase in perishable food sales. BJ’s announced on June 29 that it had entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Leonard Green & Partners and CVC Capital Partners.
Nash Finch
 
 
PL Grocery Sales:
$590 million
Web site:
www.nashfinch.com
Retail Banners: Sun Mart, Econofoods, AVANZA, Family Thrift Center, Pick ‘n Save, Family Fresh Market, Prairie Market and Wholesale Food Outlet
No. of U.S. Stores: 52
No. of U.S. Employees: 6,822
CEO: Alec C. Covington
Key PL Personnel: Maria Francisca Gallegos, senior director, marketing and merchandising 
Christopher A.  Brown, President and COO Nash Finch Wholesale
Private Labels: Our Family, Nash Brothers Trading Company, Value Choice
PL News: Nash Finch held its first-ever food show for both independent retailers and corporate stores in the past year, highlighting its 102-year-old private label Our Family line in numerous booths. It also announced a strategic alliance with the Minnesota Twins to include Our Family Half-Price Tuesdays, Saturday Tailgate Parties and Photo Night with players. Customers also can sample Nash Finch products at the ballpark. The company also launched Nash Brothers Trading Company, which offers a line of organic and natural food that aims to be a
national brand.
 
 
WinCo Foods
PL Grocery Sales:
$500 million
Web site: www.wincofoods.com
Retail Banner: WinCo Foods
No. of U.S. Stores: 79
No. of U.S. Employees: 13,000
CEO and President: Steven L. Goddard
Key PL Personnel: N/A
Private Labels: N/A
PL News: WinCo is known in the supermarket business as a low-cost, no-frills provider, whether for national brands or private label. In 2010, the company opened a store in Orem, Utah; marking the return to an area it once occupied under the banner of Waremart Food Centers. Later in the year, it continued to expand its presence in the state by opening in new cities such as Ogden and Roy. It plans to build a 2-million-square-foot distribution center in Beaumont, Calif., in addition to expanding into Arizona. In April, WinCo repurchased the entire interest held by Endeavour
Capital Management in the company.
 
 
7-Eleven
PL Grocery Sales:
$155 million
Web site: www.7-eleven.com
Retail Banner: 7-Eleven
No. of U.S. Stores: 8,800 in the U.S.; 42,800 worldwide
No. of U.S. Employees: 20,700
CEO and President:
Joseph DePinto
Key PL Personnel: John Centala, director of private brands
Private Labels: 7-Eleven®, 7-Select®, Slurpee®, Big Gulp®, Big Bite® Proprietary wines include: Sonoma Crest, Yosemite Road, Cherrywood Cellars, VitAlma
PL News: 7-Eleven added many new private label products in 2010, including packaged bakery, packaged cookies, frozen pizza, salsa, dip, frozen appetizers, carbonated soft drinks in bottles and s’mores ice cream sandwich. The company also created a mid-tier-priced wine ($7.99 - $8.99 per bottle) called Cherrywood Cellars, available in three varietals – chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The brand opened more than 300 new stores in 2010, as well. In 2011 it rolled out private label lemonades, new bottled juices, VitAlma pinot grigio wine (in four markets), packaged burritos and packaged sour candies.

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